The impact of sleep, stress, and depression on postpartum weight retention: a systematic review

J Psychosom Res. 2014 Nov;77(5):351-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2014.09.016. Epub 2014 Oct 2.


Objective: To review the impact of sleep, stress, and/or depression on postpartum weight retention.

Methods: We searched three electronic databases, PubMed, ISI Web of Science, and PsycInfo. Studies were included if they were published between January 1990 and September 2013 in English, measured sleep, stress, and/or depression in the postpartum period, and assessed the association of these factors with postpartum weight retention. Two reviewers reviewed included articles and rated study quality using a modified version of the Downs and Black scale.

Results: Thirteen studies met our pre-defined eligibility criteria, reporting on 9 study samples. Two were cross-sectional studies and eleven were longitudinal studies. The study sample size ranged from 74 to 37,127. All four studies examining short sleep duration and postpartum weight retention reported a positive association. The four studies examining postpartum stress and weight retention reported non-significant associations only. Of 7 studies examining postpartum depression and weight retention, 3 reported non-significant associations, and 4 reported positive associations.

Conclusion: Research investigating the impact of postpartum sleep, stress, depression on weight retention is limited. Future longitudinal studies are needed.

Keywords: Depression; Postpartum weight retention; Postpartum women; Sleep duration; Stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Overweight
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Sleep*
  • Weight Gain*
  • Weight Loss*